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Beyond Posthumanism: The German Humanist Tradition and the Future of the Humanities

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Volume 22

Spektrum: Publications of the German Studies Association

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Beyond Posthumanism

The German Humanist Tradition and the Future of the Humanities

Alexander Mathäs

314 pages, 11 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78920-563-3 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (February 2020)

eISBN 978-1-78920-564-0 eBook

Hb View cartYour country: United States - Click here to remove geolocation   Buy the eBook! $34.95 Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


“Beyond Posthumanism is a timely intervention into a high-stakes debate on the value of humanist education today. The book situates this debate in a wider historical framework, thereby demonstrating the often overlooked complexity of humanistic concepts. Highlighting literature's unique ability to serve as a meta-sphere for reflection, this is a comprehensive and thoughtful consideration of one of the great questions of contemporary education.” • Christine Lehleiter, University of Toronto


Kant, Goethe, Schiller and other eighteenth-century German intellectuals loom large in the history of the humanities—both in terms of their individual achievements and their collective embodiment of the values that inform modern humanistic inquiry. Taking full account of the manifold challenges that the humanities face today, this volume recasts the question of their viability by tracing their long-disputed premises in German literature and philosophy. Through insightful analyses of key texts, Alexander Mathäs mounts a broad defense of the humanistic tradition, emphasizing its pursuit of a universal ethics and ability to render human experiences comprehensible through literary imagination.

Alexander Mathäs is Professor Emeritus of German at the University of Oregon.

Subject: 18th/19th Century History 20th Century History Educational Studies
Area: Germany


List of Illustrations
List of Abbreviations


Chapter 1. Signs and Wonders: The Humanist Pedagogy of Eighteenth-Century Universal Histories of Mankind
Chapter 2. Religion, Anthropology, and the Mission of Literature in Schiller’s Universalgeschichte
Chapter 3. The Sublime as an Objectivist Strategy
Chapter 4. The Importance of Herder’s Humanism and the Posthumanist Challenge
Chapter 5. Humanist Antinomies: Goethe’s Iphigenie auf Tauris and Torquato Tasso
Chapter 6. Incorporating Change: The Role of Science in Goethe’s and Carl Gustav Carus’s Humanist Aesthetics
Chapter 7. Karl Marx’s and Ludwig Feuerbach’s Materialism in Gottfried Keller’s "Kleider Machen Leute"
Chapter 8. The End of Pathos and of Humanist Illusions: Schiller and Schnitzler
Chapter 9. Blurring the Human/Animal Boundary: Hofmannsthal’s Andreas
Chapter 10. Humanism and Ideology: Thomas Mann’s Writings (1914–30)
Chapter 11. Between Humanism and Posthumanism: Hermann Hesse’s Steppenwolf


Works Cited

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